Implications and indicators of the Iraqi elections 2021

I'm an image! 2021 / 24 / Nov

Introduction /

There is no doubt that elections are the backbone of the democratic process and one of its basic meanings, and countries are keen to hold them on time by standards of integrity, transparency, and justice to ensure a smooth and peaceful transfer of power, both legislative and executive. From this standpoint, the Iraqi government set October 10, 2021, as the date for early elections, which came as a result of pressure. The Iraqi street and its demands, extended for months, and in fact, the elections were held on time and produced results that pleased some of the political forces that won large seats in the next House of Representatives, but did not satisfy other forces after their seats declined significantly. This is something that made them question the integrity of the elections and the credibility of their outcomes, and they still do. It threatens to mobilize the street by demanding manual counting and sorting, something that the Commission still rejects and insists on conducting counting and sorting on the stations that were objected to and whose results were questioned. This cloudy scene portends undesirable consequences that could be reflected in the entire Iraqi social and political reality. In these papers, we will try to trace the most important technical and political connotations and indicators - related to the work of the Election Commission - through which we try to sense the reflection of the results on the Iraqi political reality in the future:

First: technical connotations and indicators

There is no doubt that the Independent High Electoral Commission performed “important and significant” work in organizing the electoral process in an atmosphere where a curfew was not imposed for the first time since 2005, and its efforts and good organization throughout this process were clear and won the approval of voters and candidates alike, as everyone praised the transparency of the process. Its good organization, smoothness, and clarity of procedures, whether from inside or outside Iraq and the last of this praise was issued by the United Nations in its statement that praised and applauded the elections. However, despite this, there are observations recorded on the work of the Commission, especially in the technical aspects, which raised the ire of some. Some of them can be felt and observed. :

1- The persons of this Commission were appointed after the previous Commission was dissolved as a result of the popular movement that began in October 2019, which demanded the replacement of the members of the Commission. Despite the importance of changing the personalities of those who run the Commission as it gains and enhances the confidence of the political forces and the general citizenry, it is On the other hand - without detracting from the character of the new commission - it has an impact on the issue of technical and administrative experience and its accumulation, which must be possessed by those working in the electoral field, especially since some of its procedures are of a technical and electronic nature that requires specific criteria for selection. Therefore, the first thing that affects the work of the commission is the issue of experience. Administrative and technical.

2- Although the Commission made (six) attempts to simulate devices for reading, counting, sorting, and accelerating electoral papers, all of these attempts, according to what was recommended by the Commission, were positive and successful, and no malfunction was recorded in the operation of these devices, but when the polls were conducted, many of the devices stopped for unknown reasons. This affected the process of transferring information and votes to the National Center and caused discomfort among some citizens, especially regarding the issue of reading fingerprints or the electoral card, because they had to wait or return them to their homes, and they were not provided with manual voting, and some believe that the percentage of these people is more than 5%.

3- Another drawback to the Commission’s work is that it sent the appeals submitted by the candidates to the Judicial Commission for the elections in the Supreme Judicial Council before completing all the legal procedures and determining the extent of their impact on the final election results. The Commission rejected those appeals and returned them to the Commission to audit them and send them back for approval. This indicates an unjustified defect in which the Commission has fallen, perhaps due to the experience factor mentioned previously.

4- The Commission pledged before the elections that it would announce the preliminary results 24 hours after they were held, which is a praiseworthy and good thing that enhances the confidence and integrity of the process and reduces the chances of fraud or manipulation. However, what was recorded in the work of the Commission is that this procedure was done at the expense of accuracy, meaning (that speed took place at Accuracy calculation), as the results showed the presence of errors in the numbers, the mismatch of some of them within one list, the difference in numbers and the number of seats, and their change more than once in the Commission’s announcements, justifying this by the arrival of the results from the stations that witnessed successive stops to the National Center, but this deepened doubts in the results and it could have been The Commission requested more time for the audit and then an announcement to avoid this.

5- From the previous point, some people complained to the Commission that it did not match the counted votes with the tapes available at the centers, stations, and observers before rushing to announce the results, which aroused the anger and doubts of some, especially the losing powers, and justified them to question the results.

6- The participation rate announced by the Commission was 41%, despite some people’s skepticism about that percentage. But if we accept what the Commission announced that the participation rate was 41%, and with this percentage, these technical problems occurred in the reading, counting, sorting, and other devices, then what would the situation be like if the percentage rose to 70 or 80%? This is on the one hand, and on the other hand, how will the Commission’s work and performance be if resorting to the use of mobile phones, e-mail, or any other electronic means in voting in the future? 

Second: Political connotations and indicators

The October 2021 elections are the first elections in Iraq after the popular movement that lasted for several months. What can these elections bear on Iraq’s political future?

The preliminary results of the elections showed that the Sadrist movement won the largest number of seats (73), compared to the defeat of other political forces. Observers attribute the victory of the Sadrist movement in the elections to its understanding of the “mood of the Iraqi street” and taking advantage of the negativity of the silent majority. The movement’s victory was expected, as it is the only movement among All the political forces in Iraq that are increasingly gaining more seats in Parliament, which indicates the intelligence of the movement in the way it manages the electoral file.

According to the preliminary results of the elections, the Sadrist movement, led by Mr. Muqtada al-Sadr, came ahead of all the competing lists to reach the new Iraqi parliament consisting of 329 representatives, while the Taqadum coalition led by al-Halbousi came second, the State of Law coalition led by Nouri al-Maliki came, then the Kurdistan Democratic Party, followed by The (Azm) coalition led by Khamis Al-Khanjar, then the Al-Fatah coalition. As for the (Extension) movement, which is a new political movement that says it emerged from the protest movement, it made a breakthrough in Parliament by obtaining approximately ten seats, especially in the southern governorates, but on the other hand, others considered it Among the activists is a defeat for the movement that came out demanding change, and what is indicated by these elections is that they produced an important transformation. The forces that rose, primarily from their popular base, against the spread of corruption and the lack of services and employment opportunities, now have parliamentary representation, and this is what will bring changes and transformations like Parliament’s dealings. The next government, with the fundamental challenges and issues in Iraq.

According to the follow-up of what is happening on the Iraqi political scene, the next stage will see a lot of escalation between forces, parties, and political movements of all orientations, especially in light of political forces’ objection to the election results. Here, the Sadrist movement will be subjected to a difficult test, and it has before it possibilities, the easiest of which is complex:

The first possibility is that the movement will fulfill the promises it made by crossing the sectarian quota, forming a government with a national majority far from the sectarian quota, and choosing partners in building the government other than the forces of the Shiite House, such as the Fatah Alliance and the State of Law, preferring to enter into a government coalition with forces from the two Sunni Houses. And the Kurdish.

- The second is to not deviate from the consensual quota framework and return to producing the same previous governments with minor differences, based on sectarian and ethnic distribution, and all forces represented in Parliament have seats in the government, as the government is a miniature of Parliament (everyone is in the government and the opposition at the same time), But the difference this time is that the elections produced three main forces that will change the roles and shares in the government and state administrations, which are the Sadrist movement, the Taqaddam Alliance, and the Kurdistan Democratic Party, representing the Kurdish forces. These political forces will be the backbone of the next government, but the problem of leadership will arise. This whom will it belong?

Over the past years, Mr. Muqtada al-Sadr played the role of maker of prime ministers, and leaders in his movement confirm that the next prime minister will be from their movement. Are these just statements to raise the ceiling of demands, or are they basic demands that can be achieved?

In the stage that preceded the elections, Mr. Muqtada al-Sadr had announced not to enter into the political process in the future, but (Al-Kadhimi) asked the Sadrist movement to return to running in the elections to bring about the change that the people demanded. After Mr. Muqtada al-Sadr returned from his decision, Al-Kazemi returned and stressed that “The return of the Sadrist movement to participate in the elections” is a good step that will add momentum to the vote, which was understood as a mutual understanding between Al-Kadhimi and Mr. Muqtada Al-Sadr, who praised the government’s management of the election file.

Although Muqtada al-Sadr repeatedly repeated his desire to appoint a prime minister from his movement, the reality of the situation and the facts of the political movement that broke out after the announcement of the election results and the dispersion of votes and parliamentary seats show that the candidate must be consensual, and in this context, Mr. Mustafa Al-Kadhimi still has chances to survive. He is in the position because he does not have a party, and he is not an elected representative, these are appropriate characteristics because that does not put the parties directly at the forefront, but that does not prevent the choice from falling on another political figure who is known in the Iraqi political community but does not have a clear political affiliation.

Reject results

  Political forces, including the Al-Fatah Alliance, after recording a significant decline in the current legislative elections, confirmed the occurrence of (tampering and fraud) in the election results, which opens the way for difficult negotiations between the political blocs seeking to dominate Parliament, and here the coordination framework of political forces that includes the forces of Al-Fatah and the state of law and approach indicated Patriotic, Victory, Wisdom, and Ataa said that he contests the announced results and does not accept them and will take all available measures to prevent tampering with voters’ votes. On the other hand, Mr. Muqtada al-Sadr called for self-restraint and adherence to legal methods regarding objections to the election results, and he said that it is not important who the winner is. In these elections, what is most important is the Iraqi people in terms of services, security, and the like. Warnings have been raised in Iraq against calling for violence in the wake of the results of the parliamentary elections. Here we are faced with three options, one of which will emerge in the coming days, one of which is: The first option: recount and sort manually

The parties that reject the election results, which are the coordinating framework, call for a manual recount and sorting, to find out the defect in the results according to their vision. This option is likely and possible if the country reaches a dead end, the intensity of the demonstrations escalates, or the country heads toward tense paths, so this measure will be He is the arbiter and ruler over all, and if this scenario occurs, the idea of the possibility of rigging the elections will return, as memory will return to what happened in the 2018 elections when reliance was placed on manual counting and sorting, and doubts about adding votes to the ballot boxes, randomly, which will later be difficult to verify. Correct procedures.

The second option is to validate the current results

This option means moving towards approving the current results, after resolving the more than 1,400 appeals I received, and sending the results to the judicial body in the Federal Court to ratify and grant legitimacy and confidence in the electoral process, meaning that the elections will proceed towards the fait accompli, especially since the results were similar to the election results. The previous one, in terms of ensuring the major balances of the parties, especially the parties and forces of the Shiite House, as the Sadrist movement and the Fatah Alliance took the lead at that time, but in the current results the Sadrist movement came with the State of Law coalition, which is a natural balance, and does not call for resorting to adopting other options, What strengthens the path forward is the current results, but the biggest problem is not in approving the election results, but in choosing the prime minister. This balance and numerical convergence of representatives between the two axes will not have easy outcomes to obtain, and perhaps the option of resorting to a consensual prime minister from outside these two blocs is the most appropriate option to reach a solution. the solution.

The third option: re-election

The option of re-election represents one of the demands of the losing forces, to get out of the current crisis, especially with the escalation of the fever of rejection of the election results by those forces, and those forces discussing during their meetings - and according to what is leaking from the media - the issue of re-elections, on their normal date, which is next year. 2022, until the technical procedures are properly completed by the Election Commission, and although this option is not an easy matter, especially in light of the rejection of this option by the winning powers and its material and logistical requirements, it is presented as one of the options and solutions under discussion.

Final analysis/

Predicting the outcome of the Iraqi situation after the results of these elections is not an easy matter, and it is difficult to predict and be certain about future options due to the confusion of the internal situation and the serious events that took place throughout the previous period, in addition to the regional and international interventions that constituted a dilemma and a crisis of the state’s crises and its political system is one of the most important effective and driving influences in achieving consensus. And settlements between the parties to the political process in Iraq, because the interactions of change and its dimensions prompted neighboring countries to become deeply involved in the Iraqi file and benefit from the post-change problems. The change gave external intervention a great opportunity to achieve some political gains, and on the basis of that, these forces will influence pushing the forces Iraqi political policy to reach an understanding and resolve the election file according to settlements acceptable to all parties.